Setting the stage: You’ve just gotten engaged & are trying to figure out how much a wedding is going to cost. You call up a vendor, ask for a quote for a “party”. (You’ve heard that wedding packages are more expensive, so you want to see what they will say without sharing the information.) Instead of a quick number, you get, let me get a sales representative, or; I’ll need to ask you a couple more questions.
Ahhhhh. Just tell me what it’s going to cost!
Believe me, I wish it were that easy. Especially with weddings, there are so many factors that go in to making up a quote, variables that skew price by a lot and make it hard to give an "off the cuff" number. Our "go-to" guesstimate is around $150 - $175 per person when we get this phone call. This number can be much lower or higher depending on these variables.
How long is your party going? Having 200 people eat & drink for 4 hours is a lot less than for 7 hours – consider your bar bill for an after work drink, vs. a night out on the town.
Where is your party at? This is the biggie… Here are factors that go into your venue selection:
Is there a kitchen? Does that kitchen charge a fee for it’s caterer to work out of it? Does it have all the appliances that we need, or do we bring our own? Is the kitchen close to the dining space? Not all kitchen spaces are created equal. A space that is difficult to work in, or that is up stairs, split in two, doesn’t allow the use of some equipment can mean that we need to bring in more equipment, or more people or people for a longer time.
What equipment comes with the space? Is there a rental fee for it? Does the on site staff set it up before the caterer gets there, or is it part of our responsibility? Who puts it away? With every space comes quirks. It’s great if a venue comes with tables & chairs you love – this can seem to save you money. However, if the caterer has to get the chairs and tables from a storage area, set them up, clean them off, and put them away at the end of the evening, you will need more staff there for a longer time than if a rental company is coming to pick up at the end of the event.
What are the rules for when you can set up / break down? Is the space easy to deliver to? Can you drive a truck up to it, or do you need a special permit? Is there an elevator? Can equipment be delivered to the space, or do we have to bring it on the catering truck?
Some spaces, especially those that are open to the public (think museums, galleries, gardens, stores, etc) have really specific rules for when you are allowed and where you are allowed to load everything in. If this is a short window of time, you will need a lot of people to help set up quickly or walk things up stairs if there isn’t an elevator.
Is alcohol through the space or the caterer, or can the client bring it in? This is a big one – it skews numbers pretty quickly!
This is why the question "How much does it cost?" isn’t entirely cut and dry. We aren’t asking questions to be annoying or take up more of your day. We are just trying to get you accurate information. And with all these quirks to our industry – it can be a challenge!
For More Info: Check out this article on weddings in Chicago!